This is the continuation of a series of Executive Protection articles I started, not only to educate entry level protection agents, but also to give potential clients in need of personal security, an understanding of the protection process. I have had the experience to be employed by a client for over ten years, which had a small fleet of armored SUV’s. I was fortunate enough to attend a couple of driving schools tailored to Security Drivers, and my military background with heavy equipment and combat engineering enhanced my working understanding of not only the dynamics of driving, but proper maintenance and upkeep of the vehicles. Knowing that a proper Risk Assessment has been performed for the client, this will lead us to some questions that would need to be answered before we purchase a vehicle.
- What type of environment will the client be working and or traveling in?
- What is the weather like in the area of operation?
- Will the client be using the vehicle for work only or will it be utilized by his or her family?
- Will the client drive him or herself, or will they request a trained Security Driver?
- What type of training should the client receive on the vehicle if he or she will drive?
This can mean, high to low risk environments and or what country. We will also need to do the research if in another country, what are the guidelines for operating an armored vehicle. We will need to take into account the climate for the area of operation, since this will play an important factor in our selection also. We wouldn’t want to get a luxury sedan, if we will be traveling in the back country. Or even if the client may want to keep a lower profile, we may want to opt out for an SUV that blends into the local demographics of the community.
With my own experiences of operating and maintaining armored vehicles, the armoring of a vehicle adds significant weight, which affects the dynamics of the vehicle and also the maneuverability. The added weight also contributes to stress on components of the frame, electrical motors and engine. This all needs to be researched carefully before deciding upon the type of vehicle that will be required. You being the Security Driver or Security Director or even the Estate Manager will undoubtedly be given the responsibility of providing information to the client. Some items that need consideration before ordering a specific type of armored vehicle should include but not limited to;
- The engine needs to be reworked to provide the proper power output for all conditions.
- The steering system should be of high quality and able to guide the performance of a heavy vehicle.
- Brakes must be capable of slowing and stopping the vehicle within a specified distance.
- Bullet resistant glass needs to be decided on what type of caliber weapon may be used against it. Some companies provide a protective film that can be installed over non-armored or soft skin vehicles.
- Run flat tires should be researched and the Security Driver should have a full understanding of how to change and repair the tire. The tires are self-sealing and if punctured, the Security Driver or client can operate the vehicle until they are out of the danger area and help arrives.
- Fabrics for the interior of the vehicle are also important and depending on the environment of operation should be considered. Some companies provide Kevlar fabrics that can be utilized in the construction of seats.
Some other very important areas that need not to be overlooked while selecting an armored vehicle are;
- Protective Shield for the computer components of the vehicles engine and of the radiator.
- Reinforced bumpers with the front one having a push bar to allow for ramming, in case of emergency exits
- Double lined fuel tank and upgraded fuel lines. This will assist with the possibility of tampering and or damaging the tank and lines if operating in rough terrain.
When the task does come around to selecting an armored vehicle, it is important to do your research and seek out professionals who have dealt with this topic regularly. Armored vehicles for purchase can run upwards of over $175,000.00. With such a technical item, a careful selection of vendors, brokers and armored car manufactures need to be extensively interviewed, and site visits to the manufacturing facilities are recommended.
To summarize, it all comes back to the Risk Assessment developed for your client and the area of operation that he or she will be participating in. We discussed doing our research, and seeking out reputable vendors who can manufacture an armored vehicle to our specific needs. We need to have an understanding of the basics of vehicle components, and understand that it will be much heavier than a soft skin vehicle. We need to ensure that the engine, steering and braking components are of high quality and reinforced to handle the extra weight of the armoring. The interior of the vehicle need not to be overlooked for comfort and protection, and items such as a double lined fuel tank and upgraded fuel lines need to be added.
This can be a daunting task for any Estate Manager / Security Director to undertake for a client. Remember to continue to build your network, ask questions of professionals in the field, and spend the time doing your research. It will not only pay off in the long run, but it will also give you peace of mind that your client and his or her family are protected.